Are college assistants becoming more valuable to NFL organizations?
Posted by: Chris Vannini on November 5, 2012
On Sunday, the two most-recent Heisman Trophy winners faced off on the NFL gridiron.
The Carolina Panthers held Washington Redskins quarterback and No. 2 pick Robert Griffin III to 23-for-39 passing for 215 yards and 11 rushes for 53 yards.
On Monday, Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott credited the former college coaches on the staff to help defend Griffin and the option in Washington's offense, as noted by The Charlotte Observer's Joe Person.
McDermott's comment makes us wonder if college position coaches and coordinators are becoming more appealing for NFL staffs, given the how the spread and other college-like offenses are making their way into the NFL.
Among the Panthers' coaches with college experience is defensive line coach Eric Washington, who spent four years at Northwestern from 2004-07. Against an option offense, the defensive line might be the most important position.
Working against a spread offense in practice, Washington produced several draft picks on his defensive line. He went to the Chicago Bears in 2008 for three years, where one of his Northwestern linemen - Corey Wootten - was drafted.
Carolina's linebackers coach, Warren Belin, is in his first year with the Panthers after a year with Georgia and eight with Vanderbilt in the previous nine years.
Just take a look at the Miami Dolphins. Joe Philbin brought in many coaches directly from the college ranks for his first full staff.
Among them, defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo came from Purdue, receivers coach Ken O'Keefe and defensive assistant Charlie Bullen came from Iowa, assistant receivers coach Phil McGeoghan came from South Florida, assistant defensive backs coach Blue Adams came from Northern Iowa, offensive assistant Ben Johnson came from Boston College, assistant offensive line coach Chris Mosley came from Saint Anselm, and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, offensive line coach Jim Turner and assistant quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor came from Texas A&M.
It's still early, but at the midway point, Philbin's hires have proven successful, as the Dolphins are sitting at 4-4 overall with three losses by three points each.
Is this a sign of the future or just a trend? Only time will tell. But for now, the career paths of coaches might have more options than ever before.
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Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to email@example.com